Rob Jacoby thought he’d be talking about something different.
Instead of discussing whether Menin Development would make good on its promise to transform the former Greenville Mall site on Woodruff Road into Magnolia Place Town Center, a mixed-use development including a hotel, office space, residential and more retail, Jacoby thought by now he’d be talking about what a success the whole development had become.
But that was before what Jacoby called the “economic tsunami” of the last several years where credit was tightened and retailers where shuttering stores, filing bankruptcy and laying off workers.
Jacoby said the company still plans to redevelop the 66 acres of prime real estate near Interstates 85 and 385.
“We remain committed to the project. I promise you this, we’re working every possible avenue and approach to getting it done,” he said.
And recent developments with the project support the company’s confidence in the project and in the Greenville market, he said.
Two retailers have announced plans to locate in Magnolia Park.
Frank Entertainment announced it would turn part of the building that used to be home to the Montgomery Ward department store into a super-sized playground.
A Superplay USA bowling and family entertainment center will include 34 bowling lanes, laser tag, an interactive game room, sports bar, martini bar, party rooms and a billiards room.
It was not announced when the 50,000-square-foot center will open.
The company said Greenville was chosen because it is home to a lot of young families and young adults.
Walls are going up for a new Rooms to Go furniture store at Magnolia Park.
The store, which fronts Woodruff Road near the Costco Wholesale store, will replace the chain’s store on Haywood Road.
The relocation, he said, is a good sign, he said.
“To us it says they believe in Greenville. They could have just stayed put where they are,” he said. “I think that’s a testament to Greenville being a strong market.”
And Jacoby believes once the macro economy starts to turn around, interest from other national retailers will follow.
Menin Development bought the 66-acre former mall in March 2007 for $52 million.
The company announced plans to have retail space, one or two hotels, office space and residential development on the site.
For two years, nothing happened.
The company still has plans for an additional 400,000 square feet of retail space, 375,000 square feet of office space and a hotel, Jacoby said.
While the company is holding space at the site for residential development, Jacoby said he’s not sure if it will be built.
“That’s the only thing I can’t say for certain will be there,” he said.
Jacoby said the company is getting serious inquiries about the development that have led to discussions, but he could not disclose the companies’ names or even the segment of retail they are in because of confidentiality agreements.
Magnolia Park is anchored by the Hollywood 20 Regal Cinemas, Sports Authority, Bed Bath & Beyond, Old Navy and Costco, which had already decided to open a store there when Menin bought the property from another Florida development company, Gulfside Development.
Jacoby said the company is aware other developers had trumpeted plans for the former Greenville Mall site in the past and left before accomplishing them.
“I don’t want to be just another one of those guys,” he said.